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Hospitality industry representation on Charlottesville area tourism board could double

More hospitality industry representatives could soon be appointed to the local tourism board, after some have asked for more representation on the board.

The Charlottesville-Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors recommended at its meeting Monday that four board seats currently filled by elected officials and government administrators be changed to tourism industry related representatives appointed by the city and county.

Those in the tourism industry have asked to fill more seats on the board, and have said board members should be an advocate for tourism.

Ultimately, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and Charlottesville City Council will have to approve any changes to the operating agreement.

If the changes are approved, the number of appointed tourism representatives on the board would double.

Industry representation on the board has been an ongoing concern since the board’s makeup was changed in 2018 and elected officials were added. Changes were made to the board and the organization by elected officials because of “the CACVB’s limited focus and reluctance to explore new tourism markets.”

Hospitality representatives have said there’s a disconnect between the board and what the industry needs, and tensions flared again earlier this year around the board makeup and investment in marketing the Charlottesville region.

Funding for the bureau comes from a portion of the city and county’s transient occupancy tax, which is levied on hotel and short-term rental guests. Due to the pandemic and low hotel occupancy, the CACVB in the current fiscal year is receiving about 14.6% less funding than it did last year.

Currently, the operating agreement states the executive board is made up of 15 voting members including four elected officials and four city and county staff members, including the city manager, county executive and economic development directors from both localities.

The city and county also each appoint a tourism industry organization representative to the board. The elected officials jointly appoint one “representative of the recreation community” and one “representative of the arts community.”

Representatives from Monticello, the University of Virginia and the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce round out the board.

The new recommended operating agreement replaces one elected official from each jurisdiction, the city manager and the county executive with two “accommodations” representatives, one appointed by each the city and the county, and two “food or beverage” representatives, one appointed by each the city and the county.

At the meeting Monday there was little discussion about the recommended changes. Elizabeth Cromwell, the president and CEO of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce and also a CACVB board member, asked about when new members would be on the board, if the changes are approved.

Chris Engel, the city’s director of economic development, said the elected bodies may take action by the end of the calendar year and that appointments could be made with the new calendar year.

“That might be optimistic, but I think that’s the ideal scenario, if possible,” Engel said.


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